Investigations are continuing into the death of a homeless man in Cork over the weekend, which has been described as a “damning indictment” of the government’s failure to tackle homelessness.
Timmy Hourihane, a former chef, died following a brutal weekend assault in the Mardyke Walk area of the city, where homeless people had gathered to live in tents.
The Bantry native was discovered lying close to his tent with a number of injuries to his body.
His tent had been set alight before emergency services arrived.
He was taken to Cork University Hospital where he died shortly after.
Mr Hourihane had presented himself to homeless services in the city a number of times over the last few years.
He had also been granted permanent social housing tenancy by Cork City Council but had not taken it up.
Cork TD and Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin said the death of Mr Hourihane is the sixth death of a person on the streets in Cork this year and labelled it a “damning indictment” of the government’s failure to tackle homelessness.
Responding in the Dail on Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Mr Hourihane was someone “whose family really tried to help him, who was helped by charities and addiction services, and was also provided with an apartment, all government funded.
“But, unfortunately this does demonstrate how complex the problem of homelessness is, how hard it can be to help people but how we should never give up trying to help people no matter what the circumstances,” he added.
Cork city councillor John Maher (Lab) called for the government to respond to the homelessness crisis in Cork and demanded that the Minister for Housing visit the city.
He expressed his shock and sympathy at the death of Mr Hourihane and added that it needs to act as a wake up call for Cork.
“We should not tolerate violence, nor the fact that more and more people have to resort to living in tents in our city,” he said.
“Front line staff in the Council, Cork Simon, Penny Dinners and other organisations are doing huge work to tackle the problem, but we know it is getting worse.
“This is not the first death on the streets of Cork, and as the winter approaches there is a real risk of more,” he added.
“Nights are getting colder, and the weather will only worsen so it is time for action.
“The Minister for Housing announced a further €20m in funding for 2020 homeless services, taking the overall budget next year to €166 million.
“What I want to see is the Minister visiting Cork, not for photo ops, but to see first hand the problem facing our city, and engage with stakeholders on the solutions needed.” In a statement to The Echo on Tuesday evening, Gardai said they had no further updates at that time but that “a murder inquiry is ongoing”.